Besalu, Catalonia – The Fortified Town part 1

 

Besalu lies north and slightly west of Banyoles along the C-66 heading towards the Garrotxa national park. Joining the N-260 the first thing you see of this ancient town is its impressive bridge which spans El Fluvia and shines brightly in the sun.

The town is similar to Pals which lies north west of Begur on the Costa Brava, but for me is a lot prettier.

From the new road bridge you get a perfect view of the town and bridge which adds to its allure. We parked in a wide lay-by opposite a church and began our exploration. The bridge is the most obvious attraction and we started there, ignoring the heavily touristic shops and cafés that greet coach loads of visitors on a daily basis.

The town originated in Roman times around the 10th century and was built upon Santa Maria hill while under the rule of Wilfred the Hairy (Sweep liked the sound of him). It was then divided into two parts with the main town on top of the hill and the hamlet at the bottom. Construction started shortly afterwards and the first wall and bridge were built along with the Sant Pere monastery. The bridge was considered unusual due to its huge gate.

 

The imposing gate along the bridge at Besalu.

 

In the 14th century another wall was added and the bridge was fortified with two towers. The long walk across the bridge leaves visitors exposed so security in the early days would not have been an issue as they also had to pass through three checkpoints.

Nowadays the visitors are considered a lot less hostile and the pretty little town is subject to hordes of tourists all year round. If you find yourself in Catalonia, Besalu is one of those places you should definitely visit and drink in the rich history and drama of this stunning looking location.

 


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